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Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
PROPERTY FROM THE JOHN C. WHITEHEAD COLLECTION
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)

Ta-Matete

Details
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Ta-Matete
signed, dated and dedicated 'P. Gauguin 1892 à Mde Goupil hommage respectueux–' (lower left)
gouache, watercolor and pen and black ink over pencil on paper
6 ¾ x 18 ¼ in. (17.2 x 46.2 cm.) (irregular)
Executed in Papeete, Tahiti, 1892
Provenance
Madeleine Goupil, Papeete, Tahiti (gift from the artist).
Courvoisier Galleries (The Penthouse), San Francisco (1938).
Mrs. Richard Rheem, San Francisco.
John Berggruen Gallery, San Francisco.
David Page, Paris, 1973.
Acquired from the above by Achim Moeller Fine Art on behalf of John C. Whitehead, 1984.
Literature
R. Pickvance, The Drawings of Gauguin, London, 1970, pp. 8 and 19.
M.S. Gerstein, Paul Gauguin’s “Arearea” in Bulletin, Houston, vol. VII, no. 4, Fall 1981, pp. 2-18.
Achim Moeller Fine Art, ed., Late XIX and Early XX Century French Masters: The John C. Whitehead Collection, A Collection in Progress, New York, 1987, p. 54 (illustrated in color, p. 55).
D. Sweetman, Paul Gauguin: A Life, New York, 1995, p. 435.
J.-P. Zingg, Les Éventails de Paul Gauguin, Paris, 1996, p. 92, no. XX (illustrated; illustrated in color, p. 64).
Exhibited
Washington, D.C., The National Gallery of Art; The Art Institute of Chicago and Paris, Musée d’Orsay, The Art of Paul Gauguin, April 1988-April 1989, p. 240, no. 133 (illustrated in color).
New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, The Whitehead Collection: Late 19th and 20th Century French Masters: A Collection in Progress, April-May 1997, p. 78, no. 52 (illustrated in color, pp. 76-77).
New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, From Daumier to Matisse: Selections from the John C. Whitehead Collection, May 2002, pp. 48 and 81, no. 9 (illustrated in color, pp. 49 and 81).
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Lure of the Exotic: Gauguin in New York Collections, June-October 2002, p. 88, no. 60 (illustrated in color).
Paris, Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais and Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Gauguin: Tahihi, September 2003-June 2004, pp. 350-351, no. 91 (illustrated in color, p. 32).
New York, Achim Moeller Fine Art, From Daumier to Matisse: French Master Drawing from the John C. Whitehead Collection, April-May 2010, p. 46, no. 15 (illustrated in color, p. 47).
Sale room notice
Please note that this work will be included in the forthcoming Paul Gauguin catalogue critique, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

Brought to you by

Brooke Lampley
Brooke Lampley

Lot Essay

This work will be included in the forthcoming Paul Gauguin catalogue critique, currently being prepared under the sponsorship of the Wildenstein Institute.

Gauguin is rarely as charming and gracious, while remaining no less mysterious, formally innovative and sincerely dedicated to themes he had made his own, as he is in this gouache he painted in 1892 during his first stay in Tahiti. Any one of these qualities is a bounty in itself; casting this enterprise in the format of a fan is moreover a most felicitous choice of presentation for a lovely idea.
Deriving the imagery in Ta-Matete–or Le marché (“The Market”)–from the namesake tempera painting he had completed earlier the same year, Gauguin selected for this fan two of the seated figures on the left side of the canvas, as well the standing figure along the right edge, which in the gouache he depicted full-width, while introducing the head of a young child. Gauguin gauged the more enclosed and flattened space in the present gouache to specifically suit the fan shape. His model for the frieze-like disposition of the seated figures in the large picture, Wildenstein noted, had been an Egyptian wall painting (from the tomb of Nebamun, Thebes; 18th dynasty, circa 1400 B.C.) in the British Museum, of which Gauguin kept a postcard in the portable museum of world art he took with his belongings to the South Seas (cat. rais., no. 476, p. 192; see J.-P. Zingg, op. cit., 1996, pp. 60-64).
The fan was a design to which Gauguin liked to turn when he desired to create a presentation piece as an occasional token of friendship, goodwill and gratitude. The French passion for japonaiserie in the arts had helped inspire a fashion for hand-painted fans during the late 19th century. Degas and Pissarro, the Impressionists to whom Gauguin had been closest, created fans, which the dealer Durand-Ruel had recommended for their salability; Gauguin first took up the idea with this goal in mind when he produced landscape fans in Rouen during the mid-1880s. The format was especially well-suited to the flat color areas of his mature synthétiste manner, and he produced around thirty known works of this kind during his career.
The name Goupil in the dedication, not to be confused with one of Gauguin’s dealers in Paris, refers to Auguste Goupil, who was the most prominent lawyer, and, as a coconut magnate, had become the wealthiest and most powerful man in Tahiti, having settled there in 1869 and built the island’s largest Victorian style mansion. Goupil was married to Sarah Gibson, the daughter of a successful British merchant family. Both husband and wife were active in the local Protestant congregation, to which Gauguin would gravitate more often than not when taking sides in political and social matters, as rival Protestant and Catholic parties contended for influence in local affairs.
Goupil gave Gauguin occasional work as the caretaker of properties he was managing, and allowed the artist to give drawing lessons to his daughters Madeleine, Sarah, and Jeanne (the latter was known as Vaïte in Tahitian). He let Gauguin to borrow his copy of J.-A. Moerenhout’s Voyage aux îles du Grand Océan, 1837, a comprehensive volume on ancient Polynesian religions, which the artist used as a source for many of the native themes that appear in his paintings during 1892-1893. The artist copied excerpts into his own illustrated manuscript Ancien Culte Mahorie.
The curators of the 1988 National Gallery of Art exhibition The Art of Paul Gauguin indicate that the artist inscribed this Ta-Matete fan to Madeleine, a daughter of the Goupils. That Gauguin would abbreviate the young girl’s first name and employ the valediction “hommage respectueux” seems unlikely; he surely presented the work instead to Madame (“Mde.”) Goupil as a thank-you for employment or other assistance her husband had provided him, and to further ingratiate himself with this powerful family. The latter purpose eventually bore fruit during Gauguin’s second stay in Tahiti–in 1896 he completed a commission to paint a portrait of Vaïte, then nine years old (Wildenstein, no. 535; The Ordrupgaard Collection, Copenhagen).

Fig:
Paul Gauguin, Ta matete, Tahiti, 1892. Kunstmuseum Basel.

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